My longest, their shortestLast September this year, my officemate Leo (ChickenLegSaga) and I joined a race distance not common to our regular races. It was our longest run, and I could say one of the biggest decision we have made in terms of running, where up to a day before the event, we were still unsure if we really should continue and show up on the race, but yes we still showed up and conquered those insecurities.
The race I'm talking about was the Tagaytay-to-Nasugbu 50K Ultramarathon (2011 PAU=T2N). And there goes the irony. For us who are not used to running these kind of long-distance races, a 50-kilometer event already seems like a grueling competition, ready to eat us up anytime within the day, as if all of our strength will be sucked up in no time. For an average runner like me, a 3-km distance is the shortest distance that I could join to. But for Ultramarathoners, a 50-km distance is just like saying "we're joining a 3-kilometer race"!
Pre-race jugglesBefore finally deciding to register for the 2011 50K PAU-T2N, Leo and I have been planning about how are we going to form our support team, and the trainings and preparation that we should do. For the support team, I remember Kuya JJ (Junar Layug) from Team Ungas. He already mentioned to me a few months back that I could count on him should time comes when I would already decide to join an Ultramarathon. As for Leo, his Team CB (Cool Buddies) are always there to support him.
|Taking a rest before the race|
While for the trainings, we haven't properly executed our training plans, and we can't even dedicate more time into training due to office and other schedule conflicts. Realized, it's not only the time that we really lack, but also the motivation to train and prepare very well! We were only able to train once on an LSD for a distance of around 25-km more than a month before the event. That was my very first LSD training in an ultra-pace that it has drained me so much! The muscle ache that I got was more intense, and the fatigue stayed much longer. My body, during that time, wasn't still used to a continuous slower pace training!
After this LSD, we were back in our old selves of getting busy at work. But it was also during this LSD that we were able to find something that could motivate us more - to give back to our Community through the Charity Organizations we have chosen. With the help of some friends, we were able to raise a frugal amount and a number of in-kind donations for Give a Life Children's Foundation and Anawim Lay Missions Foundation Inc.
Race dayMeeting place for Team Ungas participants was at the Robinson's Pioneer at 2AM. I only had around 1.5 hours of sleep since I still attended a Blogger event, which paid-off having won a pair of Skechers Pro-Speed shoes. Although, I was nervous as hell thinking that the 1.5 hours of sleep might not sustain me for the race day. Just before going to our meeting place, I taped my knees (for my ITBS) and my feet (for the plantar fasciitis). These are some injuries that I don't want to feel while doing my very first Ultramarathon.
|Team Ungas before the race started|
We arrived at the venue (Tagaytay) with enough time to prepare, claim our race bib, do a warm-up, and take some photos. Seeing the runners and some friends whom I never thought are also into Ultra running made the event more feisty. I also heard from the PAU-T2N veterans that this event is much full with newbie Ultra runners as compared to last year's PAU-T2N.
Minutes before the gun-start, I was feeling anxious and unsure about myself if I really should continue the race. I don't know why but it feels abnormal doing this race and at the same time, I feel that something's really missing. As the gun-start fired, I was looking down on the road and started to walk really slow so as to let all the participants go ahead of me until I'm the only one left at the back. The route immediately started with a slightly uphill road, but the cool weather is really inviting. Our support crew on the van from Team Ungas with Jeric Estabillo (who was coerced to become one of our support crew only a few days before the event) noticed me and asked if I am okay. I signaled them that I am fine and told them to just go ahead as they also have to lookout not only for me but with another newbie Ultramarathon runner (Che Calleja).
|Runners headed after the gunstart|
A few more minutes of sulking at the back of the pack, I knew that there was no more backing out so I started to walk in my normal speed and put in some few jogs to keep my body warm. As the sun slowly peeps out from the horizon of the hills of Tagaytay road, I started to keep up with some runners and friends. Unlike during road races, running an Ultramarathon race could give you more time to talk with other runners, which I did so I could keep my pace slower and reserve the energy and pains for the last part.
The first familiar participant whom I kept up with was Leo who was also reserving much of his energy. He asked me how my plantar fasciitis was doing, which I replied it's already starting to knock. Leo then told me to just go on and run the pace which I am more used and comfortable to than force myself to slow down but suffer injuries as a result. So I went on ahead of him, still keeping the slow pace which I think I really need to keep since I know my body doesn't have such stamina to last a race of more than 5 hours.
Next runner to have a conversation with was RocketBong, who is no longer new with Ultramarathons and with the PAU-T2N race/route. He vividly shared to me his PAU-T2N debut, and gave some advices on when and where to give out my all, what's to be expected ahead, and the temperature changes once we get to Batangas area. At the end of our conversation, he let me go ahead and gave me a packet of energy gel (thank you very much Bong).
As I went on through the route, I had few more conversations with other participants, even those whom I never knew I could have conversation with. The race became like a run of a family as runners are all friendly with each other and much approachable that made the environment full and no room for boredom. The troll-like haired runner Mr. Greeneyes who I thought was not a serious runner with his signature green wig was also a participant and is pacing with another runner. Aileen Roque was also doing her first Ultramarathon and being paced by BoyPra (both from UP Heartbreakers). Ms. GailCon (a colleague from Blogging world) was as well doing her first Ultramarathon. Other participants from Team CB, TKR, from the ARC community, HOB, Team Boring, and etc. were all enjoying the race as well.
|with fellow Ungas runner and Ungas support|
My mind also got refreshed of the faces of some runners whom I first got a glance with a few years back but haven't seen in the road races anymore. I realized, they are already enjoying Ultramarathons much more than the road races.
The support crews from other participants were all friendly and helpful as well, all of them were so kind to offer their hydration, banana, coolers, and energy drinks to me even those who I'm absolutely sure that we both don't know each other. And these kind acts are enough for a stranger runner to get re-fueled and motivated back. Aside from our own support crew from Team Ungas, the support crews of the UP Heartbreakers (Tita Glo and Jeff Amurao), Team HOB (Papa Racs and company), and another support crew with no team banner were always there to ask if I need a hand or offers cold refill of my hydration. Tita Glo and Jeff even went further by letting me use ahead the seat and foot-rest intended for their own runner ;)
|Savoring the cold water while seated at the|
mobile sala/kitchen setup by Tita Glo
I got chicked
("the act of getting passed by a stronger woman athlete" - Soleus Running)
With all these camaraderie, the whole running scene really didn't felt like a competition at all, but a friendly family game and adventure. It's the kind of feeling I missed from my early days of running. My previous sulking when the race started, the unsurety of what I am doing, and the feel of something missing were all gone and the race became fun and joyous.
In contrast, the only time that I feel the competition comes back is whenever the legendary and history-plotter Ultramarathoner Irene Ong comes into view LOL! It's been always normal whenever I get "chicked" in road races, but it is also a great motivation for me to do better whenever this happens.
I have witnessed for myself how strong Irene can go, and admittedly, call me p**sy for making it like I'm competing against a woman, but for me, there will always be many things that we could learn from a stronger athlete (man or woman). And for this, yes I learned a trick from Irene. She deserves respect with how she does her craft and I salute her for her will, determination, and strength. I also learned and realized that a stronger woman should not always be viewed as a competitor, but someone whom you can draw inspiration and motivation of.
The hardestAfter covering more than 35 kilometers in around 5 hours, the sun's heat started to reveal its unforgiving touch. With all the others runners starting to show up their seriousness, I think the time spent for leisure is more than enough and the clock's now ticking to put more work and intensity for the race before the sun burn ahead all the energy that I have reserved.
Although, the remaining distance was no longer easy, as my body started suffering from lack of LSD trainings. My legs are now cramping and already rejecting the Salonpas. My sweat is no longer coming out but my body smells aweful from the sweat that has dried up because of the sun's heat. At kilometer 40 where our support van stationed after giving aid to our other companions who are still behind, I changed my shirt, re-fueled, and had my final bite of bread and refilled my hydration.
|The long road to Batangas|
Only 10 kilometers left, but the torture to my cramping legs was already unbearable, coupled with the sun's heat that made the remaining distance seems much longer. I tied my left leg with the bandana I'm carrying with me so I could still sustain a slow to moderate jog as walking under the sun felt like it would drain me out. After covering some few meters, the other leg would also cramp, and I have to transfer the only bandana I have to tie the cramping leg. I've been alternating the tying of my legs with the bandana as the cramps kept on transferring from one leg to another.
In between these final route going to Nasugbu Municipal Hall where the finish line is, the highway is deserted aside from the trees which are away from the streets that made the sun's rays rule the route. Speeding vehicles/jeepneys with topload carrier also abounds the highway. I could only imagine should there be a dehydrated runner alone and swaying on its way, a passing or incoming vehicle (if you're at the opposite direction) would surely hit and knock him hard. Thankfully this never happened!
As I push on after more than 43 kilometers, I thought to myself that I have already started crossing from the boundary of a Marathoner, and now entering the door towards being an Ultramarathoner. But as I reached around 47th kilometer, the thought of lack of training kept up with me as I could no longer make my legs extend further. I have to run with much smaller steps! I still have water in one of my hydration bottle but I can't seem to swallow it any longer! I don't also want to pour it to my head nor to my burning legs as it would further the cramps I'm suffering. At this point, all I could think of is "it would be much easier to die than to finish the remaining 3 kilometers."
Nevertheless, I was still able to get out from the hallucinations of dying in the middle of the highway as I enter the Municipality proper and finished the entire race in 7 hours and 27 seconds. As my name was called to receive the Finisher's medal, I silently told BaldRunner that this race gave me the hardest race I have ever joined, to which, he just smiled and replied back: "ito ang pinaka-maikli at pinaka-madaling race natin" (this is the shortest and easiest of our races) -- I was stunned while smiling at the cameramen taking our photos!
Official Time: 07:00:27
Official Ranking: 108th out of 202 Finishers
When: September 17, 2011.
Event: 2nd PAU-T2N
Official race result may be viewed from BaldRunner's blog or here.
Donation reportWith the help of some of our friends from the running community, we were able to raise a thrift amount and some assorted used clothes for our two beneficiaries. And as promised, though it has been a late report, below are the details of the funds we have raised:
Php 950.00 - Tita Nora
Php 1,400.00 - Team CB
Php 600.00 - Marvin Pangan
Php 500.00 - Maridol Yabut
Php 1,050.00 - Anonymous donors
- Php 4,500.00 - TOTAL FUNDS RAISED
- Used assorted clothes and a pair of Running Shoe - Ms. Z Villarin
- Used assorted shirts - Anonymous donor
Anawim Lay Missions Foundation
- Assorted clothes and pair of running shoe + Php 2,000.00 cash donation
Give a Life Charity Foundation Inc.
- Php 2,500.00 cash donation
Below are the contact details of the beneficiaries should you also wish to extend support to these Charity Organizations.
Anawim Lay Missions Foundation Inc.
#60 Chicago St., Cubao, Quezon City
E-Mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel#: (02) 710-5273
Give a Life Charity Foundation Inc.
E-Mail address: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
Enjoy some more photos below taken during the race (also thanks to Jeric for some of the photos).
|Leaving Tagaytay, Entering Batangas|
|Final view of Taal lake|
|Our loyal and hard-working support crews - Andy and Jeric|
|Can you decrypt what's on their shirt?|
|Welcome arch to Nasugbu|
|Ate Glo and Jeff on their support logistics|
|One of those friendly creatures you would pass along the way|
|with Aaron and Paul at a Tri-Jeepney|
|Team Ungas after a sumptuous post-race Bulalo feast at Tagaytay|